Thursday, May 31, 2012

Soccer tournament update

With the soccer season officially over, I thought it would be good to provide an update on how everything went. Coaching this team has been a massive part of my daily life for the past three months (okay...let's be honest I was starting to plan things for this season two days after graduation last year, it's just that we've been officially in season the past three months). But to be perfectly honest, I'm still at a loss as far as what to write, and don't have much desire to write this. I am having a hard time accepting that the season is over, and I am having a hard time letting it go. I have mentioned the results from tournament to numerous people, but only gone in depth about the games, the team, the pranks, the experience, with one or two people. So there are a lot of thoughts still swimming in my mind and heart. I don't know how much this will dive into those thoughts, but you can always ask if you want more.

First of all, I want to thank all those who kept up to date with the blog while we were at tournament. I had a lot of fun sending text messages to provide the updates. I couldn't tell who/if anyone was checking while we were at tournament, but when we returned I was blessed to see the amount of people who had been keeping tabs. It was fun to return and get a few emails here and there wishing the team good luck, showing that they were keeping up with the blog.
I also want to say a huge thanks to those who financially helped support our evening out to the Mexican restaurant. The girls had an absolute blast, and it was great to give them that treat. We went the day after our season ended, and it was a great "pick me up" and a fun time for us to be together. There was a lot of laughter, fun, and full stomachs. Thanks!

I went to tournament thinking we had a chance to make some noise. I thought that we had found a good groove on the field and were really starting to click. We had gone through a difficult stretch both in our games, and circumstances facing our practices, yet it seemed like we were finally getting out from under that cloud. For a while it honestly seemed like we were catching all the bad breaks every time we turned around. Whether it was the rain that started to fall as soon as we took the field, a bus driver that got lost for 45 minutes and made us late for a game, or the snow covering the field for our first few practices. At one point I looked at the girls and said, "we have the option of using all these things as excuses, or dealing with it and making the best of it." One of our rallying cries became, "Just deal with it." So as we left, I was hoping we had put in our time and dealt with enough stuff, that it was eventually our turn to be repaid. I was searching for that "aha" moment where everything makes sense and all the muck we trudged through was now worth it. That moment never came. It still hasn't.

We won our first game 3-1 and the girls did great. A few hours later we played again but came up short 2-0. I know I am bias but I think we were clearly the better team and deserved to win. Even with a bit of disappointment we regrouped and got ready for our next game the following day. In our third game of the tournament (and first elimination game) we went up 1-0 2:30 into the game. Great start! Amongst my cheers, I let out a huge sigh of relief. However, within the last 30 seconds of the first half, and the first five minutes of the second half we were called for two fouls resulting in penalty kicks. We quickly found ourselves down 2-1 which is the way the game ended. The final whistle of that game proved to be the final whistle on our season as well. Not only did we fail to catch that break I was hoping for, the way they scored their goals seemed to be the ultimate sucker punch.

Everything we had been working for on the field was quickly over and done with. It is always hard to lose, but it was increasingly more difficult to lose the way we did. However, as I have stated from the beginning this team is about more than what we can accomplish on the field. This team has goals bigger than 8 feet, that not only encompass the here and now, but stretch into eternity. Society likes to determine success by wins and losses, I have tried to define success by pouring into lives and making an eternal impact. At times, I like society's definition of success because after 90 minutes you can clearly see whether or not you were successful, all it takes is a glance at the scoreboard. The other definition doesn't lend itself to the instant gratification we so often desire...and that can be a difficult thing to accept.

But I know I wouldn't change this experience for anything. Flat out, I simply love coaching these girls. They make practice fun. They keep me on my toes. They give their all, day in and day out. They desire to be pushed. They want to become better soccer players, and better people. I always felt like they were willing to do anything and everything I asked of them. They asked me a lot of questions...a lot of questions, which was enjoyable. They know how to have fun, and they let me be myself and have fun with them. As a 'thank you' the girls put together a video for me that we watched together as a team a few days ago. It is simply priceless. It is laced with inside jokes, funny stories, moments of seriousness, and a lot of good memories.
I am thankful for the video, the work that went into it, and the memories it holds. I haven't decided if I will make that video public or not - but there is another video that you can view if you want to see highlights from the year. You'll need to email me ( to get the password, once you follow this link:
At the start of the season the team created a new pre-game cheer that starts with one captain yelling "we are" and the team responding "one" That served as our foundational phrase throughout the year that encouraged oneness and unity. The phrase "we are" serves as the backbone for the video. 

Did we achieve everything we wanted to on the field? No. Was the year successful? Yes.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sunset video

Tonight I took a quick hike up a hill and set up my camera to take this time lapse video. Just wanted to share it, hopefully you are able to view it without any problems...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

One last update today

We had a great time at the Mexican restaurant. Thanks to all those who helped sponsor the night. The girls send their gratitude and appreciation. Looking forward to the guys game tomorrow. TB

Tournament Update #3

Our guys team made it to the championship game scheduled for tomorrow! Excited for them. Thanks to some of my college teammates I'm taking the team out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant. Time to celebrate a great team and a great year! Ole! TB

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tournament update #2

Tuesday Morning: Game day! Woke the team up at 715, was told by a teacher we had to be out of the gym at 720. Hectic morning. I feel like we just can't catch a break. We kick off at 130 local time, 730am EST. we win we keep going, we lose and the season is over. Confident but nervous. Don't want the season to end. Time to chill with the team and get some laughs in. Tuesday evening: That break I was hoping to catch? Not today. We lost 2-1. Both their goals came from penalty kicks. Tough way to go. Our season is now over. It's hard to swallow. I love coaching these girls and have had a great time. Thanks for following. I'll write again later. TB

Monday, May 21, 2012

Tournament update #1

Sunday night - made it to Ramstein high school safe after a long bus ride. Time for meeting and a round of 'who what where's.' Ready for some good laughs! First game at 830am, wake up call at 545am. Monday morning - We won 3-1 this morning! Had some major trouble getting to the field, but the girls handled it well. 4 hour break til second game. The next one will be tough. Chillin at the field and having fun. Rain is starting to fall. What else would you expect in Germany. Love this team. Monday evening - lost 2-0 in our second game. I'm biased but thought we deserved to win. We hit the post twice and were just unlucky. Lost two starters to injury. Team seems a bit discouraged so I'll dish out some good jokes to get smiles. At least the sun came out! Coming out of group as 2nd seed. Not sure of game time tomorrow. More updates to come. Thanks for checking in! TB

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Getting ready for tournament!

Oh boy, it is hard to figure where to start on this one...
It is hard to believe but this past weekend my girls played their seventh and final regular season game. We finished the season with a record of 2-4-1. While that record is certainly not the greatest record ever there are a few things to note. First of all, throughout the regular season we play schools based upon their proximity to our school, not necessarily based upon whether or not they are in the same division as us. While we are a  Division 2 school, (with the divisions lumping together schools of similar student body size) our first five games of the season were against Division 1 schools. In those five games we were 0-4-1. (We played against one school with a student body of over 1,200 where we only have 230.) However, our final two games of the regular season were against Division 2 schools, and we were 2-0 in those games. Secondly, while I am certainly competitive and desire for the girls to be competitive as well, the season has never been purely about wins and losses on the field. As you may recall prior to the season I came up with this definition of success: I think this year will be a success if I can help this team have a growing knowledge of what it means to be a servant of God, who, in all things, and through all things, glorifies Him, and changes the world in which we live for His Kingdom. While it is somewhat difficult to tangibly say whether or not we have achieved that, I feel pretty confident saying that we have taking the correct steps in getting there. And a final note on our record is this; our season is not over yet. While our regular season has just ended, on Sunday we will leave for 5 days and head to the end of the year tournament.

We are guaranteed three games at tournament. For this year's tournament I have a plan to keep you all up to date on our progress. After each game I will send a text message to my friend Timmy, who will put up a post for me and update you on how the game went. So make sure to keep an eye on the blog throughout the week for updates! (Quick note to those who receive the weekly post via an email from me, you will have to visit the blog to get the updates as I won't have email access. If you don't currently receive the updates via email but would like to be on the list, just let me know)
We received the #7 seed, out of 15 teams, which I think gives us a good opportunity to make some noise. We will definitely have some tough games, but I think we are really starting to put things together and I have been ecstatic about the way the girls have played in our past two games. I think we are headed into tournament with a bit of energy, confidence, and the word my girls have been using all season, "swag."

While there will be a lot of focus on soccer throughout our time at tournament, we will also spend time doing other things as well. Rest assured, these girls will have pockets of time where they will be doing their homework. I will mandate this and help them study for finals. Just as long as it has nothing to do with Chemistry! Additionally we plan on spending a chunk of time each day having conversations about life. For each away game we had this year, I printed out an article for the girls to read on the bus. Then later that night we got together and discussed the article. Each time I picked the article to somehow relate to the Old Testament story of Esther, as her life has been a theme for us to focus on. I have nearly finished gathering enough articles so we can have one a day, and have a daily time to hold serious conversations about something other than soccer.
Of course, there will also be activities planned that promote unity and laughter. A traditional game we play is, "Who? What? Where?" which essentially combines the game 'telephone' and 'charades.' Following that game everyone is rolling on the floor, with stomach cramps from laughing so much. Earlier this season I had to do my best impersonation of Shakira, and a woman giving birth. I'm not sure what to expect this time around, but I'm certain it will be hilarious. The girls have also already begun talking about holding a "dorky dance party." Which is...exactly what it sounds like. They all get together, play dance music, and have a competition to see who can perform the dorkiest dance. This happened last year, and they are already thrilled to do it again. I think there is some footage of me out there somewhere from last year joining in on the dorky dance party, but I hope that's disappeared. The reigning champion of our "dorky dance party" graduated, so there will be some fierce competition to see who walks away with the title this year.

Another opportunity that will hopefully come our way, is a chance to go out to dinner as a team to a Mexican restaurant. A few days ago I sent out an email to some of my college teammates, asking if they would like to help sponsor the dinner. I have been very encouraged and excited to see their responses. We were able to go out to dinner last year, through the generosity of my family/friends and over the past few days I had one of my seniors asking if we were going to be able to do it again. She said to me, "I hope we can go again because that was the highlight of the year. It's unique to the soccer team. It's a place where we can be unified. It's time for us to be together. I didn't have to do anything but eat and spend time with my teammates. Plus the food is amazing." I am hopeful everything comes together in time. If this is something you would be interested in helping out with, please let me know. 

As you can see, this team is about much more than soccer. Simply put, they know how to have fun. They know how to laugh. They know how to make me laugh too, which I greatly appreciate. This past Monday I had a pretty rotten day. By the time practice rolled around I was drained, tired, and in a pretty sour mood. My girls instantly picked up on this - and one of my girls came up to me and said, "What's up with your smile?" A little confused I asked, "what do you mean?" To which she responded, "you've been on the field with us for five minutes and you haven't smiled yet. What's wrong?" I was honest and said I had had a pretty difficult day, so when all the girls got on the line to continue their warm-up they got together and did our new trademark "bow" which instantly got me smiling and laughing. By the end of practice I was out of my funk and was in a much better mood.
I truly am absolutely loving coaching these girls. Each and every day they step onto the field and give their best effort. Every sprint, every drill, every tactic I have asked them to do, they have done to the best of their ability. They are unified, they work together, and despite our difficult start, they have never given up. To top it all off, they do all of this while laughing and having fun. They desire to become better soccer players, but they also desire to become better people.

I want to end with this bit of entertainment. While traveling to our last away game we watched the movie, "The Karate Kid" on the bus (unfortunately it was the new remake and not the classic old version) At one point in the movie some of the karate proteges did a "bow" to the sensai. I had been playing the role of peanut gallery for the entire movie so when I saw this I half-jokingly told one of the girls that if she scored a goal in our game she needed to look toward the bench and perform the "bow." The girl I mentioned it to thought it was a great idea, and quickly told some of the others. So as the game got under way the next day, they all agreed to follow suit if we scored. We ended up scoring six goals and each time a few of the girls got together to celebrate. Below is a video that will show the girls after five of the six goals. I didn't include the goals, in order to keep the video short. But you can still see the girls celebrating.

Thanks for checking in this week! I hope you'll stay up to date with the blog next week and keep tabs on how we are doing at tournament. When we get back I'll put up a post that gives a bit more detail and perhaps some pictures from tournament. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Happy Birthday Boss!

Tomorrow is my boss's birthday and, well, I thought it would be fun to pull a little prank on him.
Today when I was done with soccer practice I asked a few guys if they had a few spare minutes. It was hilarious to see their eyes light up as I said, "Do you want to help me with a prank?" They were full of excitement, curiosity, interest and enthusiasm. When they said yes, I let them in on the plan... we were going into my boss's office and going to completely rearrange everything. Perhaps they are second guessing giving me a key that works on all the guidance counselors offices!

Here is a picture of what the office looked like when Eric left for the day...

And here is a picture of what Eric will walk into tomorrow morning when he goes into work...

It's obviously not a huge switch - but things are definitely going to look different and I'm sure it will throw him for a bit of a loop.
It's just a little way to say "thanks" to my boss, and to wish him a happy birthday.
And before you go thinking I'm immature and going to get in trouble - this idea was approved by his wife, and he was influential in helping guys get into my office to cover the entire thing in newspaper for my birthday. So I think it's deserved and will be taken in stride with good humor.

With a bit of creativity like this going through me right now, I really wish I were at home and could help celebrate mother's day! I'm sure my mom would love for me to do some random rearranging in her classroom, or some other prank. Come on Mom, you know I'm funny! 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The week in pictures

 As promised from my post on Thursday, here are some pictures from the past week and all that it entailed...

On Monday two students came over for dinner. As a part of their class assignment they were supposed to cook dinner. They opted to go with tacos, which I wasn't going to complain about.
One of my favorite lines: "The avocados were hard, so I threw them in the oven, and then the microwave hoping to get them softer." Needless to say, it didn't work and we didn't have any guacamole. 
What was meant to be a few small cookies turned into one large cookie. Despite the appearance, it still tasted good.

On Thursday the guidance department was in charge of "senior day" In the morning all the seniors met at an off campus location as we talked with them about the upcoming transition they will face as they leave BFA and scatter all over the world. Our department had been working on this day since January. So there was a lot of time, effort and energy put into it. I spent a good amount of time on Tuesday and Wednesday putting the final touches on the day - and was relieved at how smooth it went, and how engaged the students were. 
In the afternoon the students headed to a quaint town in Switzerland and got to spend time together laughing, sharing, and reflecting. Unfortunately due to other commitments I was not able to go to Switzerland - but have heard great things about the day. After four months of planning, there is some relief "senior day" is over.
Students playing a game related to building community. 

On Friday my socer girls decided to do a spirit day at school to help promote our final home game. They came up with the theme of "gangsta/hip-hop" A lot of these girls stop by for one reason or another during the day, so I was constantly entertained when I saw them walking in my office. They seemed to be disappointed when I wasn't participating. Maybe next time.
Above are the girls who participated.

With girls like these ones, it is impossible to not have fun and absolutely love coaching them. I truly have such a great time as their coach. They make being on the field with them fun, but as you can see, things we do off the field are entertaining as well. 

The two captains of the team this year. I think this picture is absolutely hilarious.

On Friday night we had our Junior-Senior Banquet (JSB). This is another event that I've been helping plan over the past four months. The night serves as an opportunity to thank and bless the Seniors as they prepare to graduate. The program included musical performances and a slideshow. The slideshow was my project to put together - given my pure and amazing musical talent, I'm still a little confused as to why I was given the slideshow and not the musical performances. 

These are all senior guys from the dorm I was in. Some of the greatest guys in the world. PJ (far left, black shirt black tie) came in as a freshmen, so I have known him for four years now. It is thrilling to see him as a senior and to have witnessed all the ways he has grown over the past four years - but it will also be really sad to see him graduate. 

Here I am with the two soccer captains. A slightly different look than the picture of them above.
Saturday morning got off to a bit of an interesting start. I was helping make pancakes, sausages and eggs for the opposing team, as they had driven down Friday night and slept in our gym. The sausages created a little more smoke than anticipated, and shortly thereafter the fire alarm was going off in the entire school. 40+ people from the opposing team had to exit the building - I jokingly told their coach, "I was using it as a back up alarm clock for the kids." He was entertained and didn't mind. 
However, in a different part of the school our registrar was conducting the SAT exam. He (and rightfully so) was not too entertained at the distraction as all the students taking the exam also had to exit the building. Setting off the fire alarm during a major exam... I can now cross that off my bucket list! 

On Saturday afternoon we had our second, and final home soccer game of the year. The girls played so well and I am so proud of them. When the final whistle blew we won 2-1 and got our first win of the season! Getting that win was a huge relief for me, and for a lot of the girls. I was thrilled to see them execute things we had worked on during practice - but above all I was excited because they had so much fun on the field. 
Real quick example: I was about to put Rachel on as a sub. Right before she went on I gave her a few words of advice, something for her to try. Within three minutes of being on the field she did exactly what I had asked. She immediately looked over and with a huge grin gave me a 'thumbs up' and said, "It worked!" Everyone on the bench, myself included, burst out laughing. 

Once again at times we played through some nasty rain.  I love how the girls embrace the rain and actually seem to want it to rain when they play. 
Her first varsity goal! 
Players and managers from the team who will soon graduate. 
 And for the final picture... 

This is the German/IKEA version of a La-Z-Boy chair. This is my chair in my living room. After a very full week, especially the last three days, I plan on sitting in this chair and relaxing as much as possible today. I want to read a bit, write some, watch a soccer game, skype with family and friends...and catch my breath. I am worn down from the events of the past week, yet at the same time I am energetic and filled, because I absolutely love what I do. 
Thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement throughout this week. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Quick note

Thursday is the day where I normally post - however this week has been quite the busy week with a lot of different events happening here in Germany…and it’s not quite over yet. Rather than give a detailed explanation of every event (last week’s blog was quite long, so I felt this one should be shorter) - I wanted to put up pictures of the events that I have been involved with. However, some of those events are happening today, tomorrow, and Saturday, so I obviously don’t have all the pictures compiled yet. Please check back on Saturday or Sunday after I have had a chance to put everything together.
Thanks for checking in! It’s been a great week, a very busy and very tiring week, but a lot of good things have been happening and I continually feel blessed to be here.